Thursday, August 28, 2008

Island Empires

I needed to come up with a title to be able to reference my RPG as I work on it. So, even though it's a pretty weak title now I am going with Island Empires. The only reason I am using this at the moment is the genre that seems to stick in my head. It's an archipelago where there is an empire along with many island states that struggle for control and identity in their world. I'm not too sure if that's too stable a base to build on but it can change as the game comes together.

The next thing I wanted to do is answer three questions for a feel focus. The answers are something to keep me on track with where I want to go. These questions can be found in the RPG Design Handbook.

What is the game about?

It's about maintaining honor and posturing both socially and politically. This will be done at a personal level where they affect their local impact, not a world moving level where the characters might be the rulers.

What do the characters do?

The characters are the citizens of the island states trying to make their way in the world. They might have some impact on how larger things happen but their focus will be on family, friends and their beliefs about the world they live in. They could be the soldiers who go off to war for their island state but they could also be citizens who go off to the core of the empire to find help for their home that's in danger of dying from an emerging plague. In anything they do their focus is on how they present themselves to the world.

What do the players do?

As said in a previous post, I mostly like the GM/Player form of roleplaying games. Having said that, the players are responsible for their characters' actions. But that's not all. They are also in control of their backgrounds and how they fit in the world. They are not reliant on the GM to tell them how or why they fit into the world.

Players also build their characters through play. During character creation they will create a framework for this development to build on. The framework is more than just character stats; it's also a set of beliefs and outlooks on the world.

Well, those are the answers I have for the first set of three questions. I'm not too sure on that third question and answer but this is what I came up with for now. It seems a bit nebulous at the moment and will hopefully focus itself in my head now that I have it typed out.

Once I have my base mechanics nailed down I will describe what I am trying in order to give the impression I'm going for with the game.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My Insanity

I was working, or at least trying to work on the ideas I have for a game and started browsing my shelves of game books. Then I got curious of just how many RPGs I actually have accumulated over the years. Mind you, this is sans the couple I have lost over the years as well, for one my AD&D 1st Edition.

Anyway, on with the list.

All Flesh Must Be Eaten Revised Edition
Battletech (just the armored combat box)
Burning Wheel Revised Edition, Jihad and Blossoms are Falling
Call of Cthulhu 4th, 5th, 6th, Dark Ages and D20
Cyberpunk 2013 and 2020
Dangerous Journeys: Mythus
Doctor Who Fasa Edition
Dogs in the Vineyard
Don't Rest Your Head
Dungeons & Dragons Basic Rules Cyclopedia, 2nd Edition, 3E, 3.5E and 4E
Earthdawn 1st Edition and Revised Edition
Fate 2nd Edition
Indiana Jones
James Bond 007
Lord of the Rings Decipher Edition
Marvel Super Heroes 1st Edition
Mutants & Masterminds 2nd Edition
The New Argonauts
Pathfinder Beta Edition
Savage Worlds Explorer Edition
Space 1889
Spycraft 2nd Edition
Star Frontiers
Star Trek Fasa Edition
Star Wars 2nd Edition, D20 and D20 Revised
Tri-Stat dX
Twilight 2000 1st Edition and 2nd Edition
The Wheel of Time

Yes, I'm a list person. haha

Lately there has been such an explosion in the number of awesome RPGs that I have a want list that's growing the more I hear about these wonderful games. I may not get to play them all but I really do enjoy reading the books to wrap my mind around the rules and the settings. Some of them are so unique that I never would have thought them up and others are the old favorites that take me back to childhood just seeing their covers.

I hope you enjoyed that little tidbit for a blog post when I should be working on my master plan.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Why Design?

The first thing I am going to start with for my game designing ideas is to look at why I want to design a roleplaying game. In doing so I should be able to get a focus on where I am with my own play style, my likes and dislikes, and just where I intend to take the players of what I'm building. This focus should give me an anchor that will keep me from straying too far from what I intend on doing. After coming up with this focus I want to commit to having something written and in at least ashcan format for GenCon 2009. I don't know if this is too ambitious of a deadline but I won't get anything done without attaching at least something for a deadline.


What do I like in a roleplaying game?

  1. I like the GM/Players structure because it seems to keep to a focused world yet keeps that world a bit of a mystery for the players.
  2. Players should have a definite control over their characters and how they impact the world they inhabit.
  3. The players should also be able to take control of their background and not have it controlled by the GM.
  4. Player characters do not live in a bubble, but they are interrelated with the other characters, both PCs and NPCs.
  5. The GM should be saying "yes" to the players as the world is as much theirs as it is his.
  6. I like using many different dice.
  7. Less crunch and a more cinematic feel is essential for more dramatic play.
  8. Flexibility should be built into the rule system to allow for varying play styles.
  9. I love action/hero/plot points!
  10. I want to see player characters suffer the consequences of their actions.

What don't I like in a roleplaying game?

  1. I can't stand constant fudging of rules that aren't broken.
  2. I hate GM stonewalling when the players want to do something they feel would add to the fun of the game.
  3. I also hate GM stonewalling when the players are not following the letter of his planned adventure.
  4. I loathe a GM telling a story instead of opening the world for the players affect.
  5. A rule that exists just to add fiddly bits when it does not add to the flavor of the game shouldn't exist.
  6. Combat is never the only solution to a given situation and should also not be the only thing rewarding the players.
  7. I don't like Monty Hall gaming.
  8. I hate downtime between character actions.
  9. Games that are all one thing annoy me whether they are all dungeon crawl, court intrigue or self-focused internal struggles.
  10. I can't stand having to shut down a planned gaming session just because one person chould not show.

What are some things I do in my gaming?

  1. My preference is to be a GM in my gaming but I have not been able to do that in a while for lack of a gaming group.
  2. Now that I have a gaming group I am a player but hoping to get into the GMing role.
  3. I am a voracious reader of new and different game books and game systems. I read them to see what makes them tick.
  4. I am usually a quiet player at the gaming table but am stretching my wings into more control of my characters' surroundings.
  5. I've been looking for ways to tie my characters' into their world whether it's finding a relative to help our party out in a large city or struggling with character emotions over an action they needed to take.
  6. I tend to roll with the punches at the gaming table and have been keeping my eyes open for the fun of my fellow gamers. If I can help them have fun then I will try to do just that.

I'm sure this is just a starting point. As I learn more about my play I will refine these three sections. They aren't written in stone but they are a guide for my design and should not be disregarded.

These are a couple things that got me thinking about designing a game in the first place.

  1. I have a dice mechanic that should hopefully encourage players to do more than just combat in a sticky situation. It will hopefully also allow for a more realistic feel when it comes to non-physical injury, such as mental, emotional and social.
  2. I want a game with a genre of my own. I know that could be a setting book for someone else's game system but I am a believer in the rules needing to fit the feel of a genre. After all, how scary would a book be to characters in Call of Cthulhu if there were no sanity rules?
  3. With all the amazing indie games out now there is so much inspiration to break the old hard-and-fast rules and reassemble them in some new bizarre fashion to see just what they could be pushed to do.
I think that's it for me today. I am off to play with my design notes.

The Sultan of Gaming Tables

I have to get one of these!

The Sultan Gaming Table

I heard about it when listening to Paul Tevis and Ryan Macklin's GenCon 2008 podcast This Just In From GenCon. They said there was this stunning table in the vendors' hall during their coverage of the convention so I looking for a company site for the ultimate gaming table. I don't think I was expecting it to look as nice as it does. It's one stunning piece of gamer kit.

Now I just need to come up with the money for one... oh, and the room to put it in.

Monday, August 18, 2008


I've recently started posting on The Forge about my game ideas and asking for advice on where to start. My first post was replied to by a few helpful and encouraging people. One mentioned a resource on the net that was all about RPG design, though it is still in a creation process of its own.

RPG Design Handbook

After reading the pages that are written I think I will try out it's advice. First, is asking myself what I like and don't like from play and then to see how that actually fits in the gaming sessions I play in. Once I am done with that I'm going to go through some questions on what I want to see in the game I'm thinking of creating.

As this process continues I'll post my thoughts here and see if I can't bore you all. haha

Friday, August 15, 2008

Step One

After listening to many podcasts and hearing about all these wonderful indie RPGs I checked a few of them out at Origins this year and took Burning Wheel (with Jihad due to Fred Hicks' description of it) and Don't Rest Your Head (because I love that Dark City/Neil Gaiman feel in a game) home with me. They are amazing! I love the uniqueness of the concepts that make the players (and GM) jump out and take a risk with their characters. Since then I have ordered a few more from IPR (Dogs in the Vineyard, Blossoms are Falling and Agon). I guess they won't ship until after GenCon due to when I placed my order but I am thrilled to watch for that box in the post.

Now, to the point. Over the years I have had inspirations to create settings for other games such as D&D. However, after reading all these other game systems I am itching to just make my own game. The unique concepts have me coming up with ways to steal them, twist them and come up with new ones that work toward a specific feel to fit a setting. Over the last couple weeks I have been scribbling notes for rules I like and how I want to play around the gaming table.

With all the indie games that are out there and how impressive they are, where does one start? I have few setting ideas at the moment but I have piles of mechanics ideas. I used to come up with setting ideas all the time but at this point I don't want to just create another version of a different game that already exists. I don't want to rehash a setting by just adding a new set of rules to it. This dilemma could end up dropping a brick wall in my way.

I think I may go a slightly different direction with this blog and use it as a means to keep me working on the game design ideas I come up with. Please comment and let me know what you think.

Thanks for listening to me natter on.